Open to Grow Newsletter – December 2021
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Open to Grow Newsletter - December 2021

Dear Friends of Open to Grow,

Thanks so much for supporting Open to Grow - for 11 years! We appreciate each and every one of you. Together, we have made over 5,400 loans to poor women micro-entrepreneurs with a total value of $2.4 million. Together, we have improved the lives of over 27,000 women and their family members. Your loans or donations to Open to Grow have a powerful ongoing impact on the lives of many very poor people.

Last year our Newsletter provided a retrospective of our work. This one looks at where we are today and where we want to be in five years time.

Open to Grow is a volunteer-run registered Canadian charity that provides small loans (micro-credit) to poor micro-entrepreneurs in Guatemala and Nicaragua who have no access to the regular banking system. Micro-credit is powerful. When client loans are repaid (currently 96% of our loans are repaid) we can re-loan the repayments over and over again to existing and new clients. The majority of clients continue to borrow, most often in increasing amounts. This is a strong indication that their small businesses are getting larger. Your loans or donations to Open to Grow help our clients to grow their businesses and move themselves out of poverty.

Going forward together, we can continue to help our clients realize their dreams of a better future for themselves, their children and their communities.  Please make a donation or loan to Open to Grow now and help make dreams come true.

Bob Brown, Founder

P.S. In the past few months... - new copy, information on our new partners, new photos (muchas gracias Francisco) - take a look at:

Open to Grow Newsletter - December 2021

Where we are now

At the time of our last Newsletter, we were getting close to funding one or two small micro-finance institutions (SMFIs). Completing due diligence was complicated due to the impact of hurricanes ETA and IOTA at the end of last year and the pandemic. Thanks to Skype/Zoom and the hard work of our advisor Dr. Francisco Barquero, the requisite due diligence was completed in both countries.

SERVIGUA, in Guatemala, was funded in March, and PANA PANA, in Nicaragua, was funded in May. Both were selected on their merits, based on two main criteria: financial statements and performance ratios; and locations in areas of low pandemic impact. Operationally, both SMFIs have produced some of the best financial numbers I have seen in over 11 years.

Over the past decade plus, we have put in place a unique funding methodology and have developed a monthly reporting system to help us oversee the operating results of our SMFI partners. We are now able to scale up our lending activity with relative ease. In short, we have built the car (system). Now we need the gas/electricity (funds) to run it.

Open to Grow Newsletter - December 2021

Where we want to be

We estimate that in 2022 we will fund 600 loans to poor entrepreneurs. Our goal is to double the number of loans funded per annum by 2026 (or sooner).

With hard work by us and our SMFI partners, and financial support from you, we can do this and help many more poor entrepreneurs lift themselves out of poverty and see their dreams of a better future for their children and families come true.  Please make a donation to Open to Grow.


A Story of Hope

Manuela is a 21 year-old Indigenous woman who lives in the rural community of Chupol in the municipality of Chichicastenango, Guatemala. She has one child. She is a weaver by trade and makes amazing “perrajes”, colourful rectangular shawls that are used primarily by women to keep warm, cover their heads, carry children, and bring groceries home from the market. Some men also use perrajes.

Manuela received a loan from SERVIGUA from funds provided by Open to Grow. It is her first loan, and will be used as working capital to purchase materials for her business. Income from her business will be put back into her business and also used to improve the social and economic conditions of her family.


Board of Directors
Bob Brown, Founder & CEO
Karen Brown
Michael Flatters, CLO
Heather Gore-Hickman, CFO
David S, Kertland

Advisor to the Board
Dr. Francisco Barquero

Jillian Lam

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